Next fall, school at Riverside will start at 9:15 and end at 4:15.
Durham Public School [DPS] recently announced that the start times of many public schools will be changing, specifically middle and high schools.
The transition is not ideal for many Riverside students, especially those with after-school activities and/or responsibilities. Though the change that will be occurring next year is only a difference of 15 minutes, the current time that school ends already frustrates students.
Along with after school activities, many students have to spend copious amounts of time doing homework. According to a recent Pirates’ Hook survey, 87.5 percent of students spend 60+ minutes doing homework, 43.8 percent of those students spend 90+ minutes doing homework.
“ I already think ending school at 4pm is late and especially with extra curricular activities, there is hardly any time to finish homework.”
Not only does homework and extracurricular activities outside of school stress Riverside students, but so does the responsibility of taking care of younger siblings. Many students reported that they had younger siblings to take care of after school.
The DPS Board of Education mandated a district-wide bell schedule modification for the 2022-2023 academic school year. As stated on the DPS website, the change will “enable shorter bus routes and fewer delays.” The change will improve the distribution and consistency of buses by staggering bell schedules.
“Standardizing and staggering bell times will optimize travel routes, allowing us to allocate each bus to multiple schools,” said Mathew Palmer, Executive Director of School Planning.
This adjustment is a good thing for organizing and maintaining safe transportation for students, but it also reinforces issues that occurred before the change.
Many students who responded to the survey write that they believe the shift is favorable to DPS officials and bus drivers, but not necessarily to students.
“I think this is a bad decision because we already have a very late time coming home and so we have limited time in our day,” one student wrote. “Delaying this by 15 minutes affects a lot of schedules and I don’t see why this change is needed.”
“I do not agree with it, and I believe it is worse,” another wrote. “I’d honestly rather start at 7:30am and end at 2:30 because it gives me more time to do school work and for extracurricular activities…I’m already sleeping late nonetheless.”
In 2016, DPS adjusted the bell schedules of all public schools to accommodate later start times for high school students. Before the change in 2016, high schools started around 7:30 am.
The district changed that start time to 9:00 am following research that indicated that older students performed better at later times of the day. Before this shift, high school students got out earlier allowing more time for homework, extracurricular activities, jobs, and the care of younger siblings.
The ripple effect that the change had on many students was not all positive. Though some students liked that school started at a later time to allow more sleep, other students found it harder to find time to do things after school.
75 percent of the survey responders of students voted that school currently ends too late. Many complained that ending so late makes it harder to find time for after school activities.
“It makes after school activities harder to attend,” one student wrote.
“Everyone works in the afternoon,” another wrote.
“I get home later than usual and I do not have enough time for my out of school sports,” wrote another.